Rome, to Cinque Terre, to Tuscany to Paris suggestions needed

Hi All, You have all been so helpful as my husband and I plan our 10 year anniversary trip in October 2013. I have a good idea now of what I want to do but would love your thoughts. Since I have never been to Europe I want to get a sampling of a few spots I have longed to see then return again one day. Here is my plan Fly into Rome- 3 nights From Rome take the Train to Cinque Terre (I have read this is about 4.5 hours)-Stay 2 nights From CT- Go to a tuscan hill town by train stay 2 nights. Not sure which town. Head to Florence and spend the day there and then that evening fly to Paris
Paris- 4 nights and head home. This would be 12 days total. I can add in one more day if really needed somewhere. I know this does not give us much time in Florence but I would get to see a few things. What I am wondering is does it make sense to fly out of florence ot take a night train to Paris. I am a bit concerned about about the night train since I get motion sick. Would it make more sense to stay in Florence and day tip to the hill towns? I think I would enjoy staying in a hill town more but I am open. I know I could fly out of Pisa as well. I am not sure if there is more economical. I know its a lot in one trip. But I hope it is doable. My biggest concern is getting to a from places. Since I have never been I might have a travel agent help me with that part. Any ideas from you all would great. Thanks so much!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

As you seem to be aware, many will say this is too busy. But I think it's doable - as long as you realize you will just get a taste of each place, and will be on the move a lot (this itself is tiring). My biggest concern is the middle part. Rome to CT and CT to Florence each take several hours and train changes, so I would need a rest after each of these. Hill towns are better by bus than by train; many don't have train service at all, and if they do, the train usually goes into the valley below, while a bus gets in or near the center. Without a car, you must make sure the town you choose has the connections you want (some of them have very sparse bus service, and/or no service at all on Sundays, or indeed no service at all). If you don't want to take a night train, you'll find a lot of support on this board (many don't sleep well on them, and arrive tired, dirty and miserable). As for flying out of Pisa vs Florence, check http://www.skyscanner.com for flight options.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Tiffany, To begin with, does your "12 days total" include your two flight days? Assuming 14 days total, you might consider something along these lines.... > D1: Flight to Rome > D2: Arrive Rome > D3-5: Rome, touring (3 nights) > D6-7: Train to Siena; Siena, touring (2 nights) > D8: Bus to Florence (~1.5H); Florence, brief touring, I believe there's luggage storage at Firenze SMN; Train to Cinque Terre (~2H:26M, direct, others with 1 change; I used La Spezia for the destination, as you didn't specify which of the towns you'll be staying in - it's only a short ride to any of the towns); C.T. touring (2 nights) > D9: Cinque Terre, touring (the stop in Florence will reduce the time here - you might consider skipping Florence this time and go from Siena to the C.T., as Florence is worth more than a few hours - assume you will return) > D10: Train to Pisa Airport (~1H:20M - a 9:20 departure from La Spezia will get you to Pisa Airport by 10:40); EasyJet flight to Paris / ORY is 1H:40M and departs at 13:00, current fares ~€32.49 plus fees - use Paris By Train for info on travel from ORY to Paris) > D11-13: Paris, touring (you might consider a Paris Museum Pass as it may save time in queues) > D14: Travel to CDG either by RER or Shuttle; flight home There are lots of ways this trip could be arranged, and this is only one suggestion. Early congratulations on your 10 year Anniversary! Happy travels!

Posted by Tiffany
Austin
56 posts

Thanks All. My other thought would be stationing myself at a hill town. I really think I would enjoy the more serene atmosphere and taking day trips to Florence and CT. But staying in CT certainly has an appeal. We have between 12 and 13 days. Of course 2 of these will be taken by travel to and from there. I know it might be a bit chlly in October but I am ok with that. Thanks for the tip about the bags I was wondering where I would leave them.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3347 posts

I'm leaving intact all the places you want to visit, since I assume that's what you want to see. I'm also assuming that you don't have a car there. Based on these assumptions this Florentine in exile would change the order of the itinerary as follows. Fly into Rome: X nights (this is up to you but you should stay at least 2 days in Rome (min. 2 nights). From Rome take the train to Florence (not CT). The rail line to Florence is much faster than the Tyrrhenian line. Stay in Florence as long as you like and from there you can take day trips to hilltown(s) (better by car, but some are also very doable by public transport). When you are tired of Florence take the train from Florence to the Cinque Terre. I suggest you go to Monterosso. It's the biggest town in CT and you have more train options stopping in Monterosso. The journey from Florence is 2 and 1/2 hrs and will require at least one change (in Pisa). Stay at the Cinque Terre the length of time you like. One full day is sufficient in my opinion. When you are done with the Cinque Terre taka a train back to Pisa (1hr and 15min) from where you'll fly to Paris. From the Pisa Central station there are frequent trains to the Pisa Airport Station. Pisa (PSA) offers many more flight options to Paris than Florence (FLR). From FLR you are stuck with AirFrance to Paris (CDG) and prices are generally high. Vueling also flies to Paris Orly (ORY) but only 3 times a week. From PSA you have the following flight options: AirFrance (3 dailies to CDG) Easy Jet (2 dailies to ORY) RyanAir (1 daily to paris BVA)
The last 2 are low cost. Buon viaggio.

Posted by Tiffany
Austin
56 posts

Thanks you that makes sense about the train. Is there a hill town you all would recommend I stay in that is easy to get to From Rome and is close enough to do a day trip to Florence. Maybe 3 days Rome Train to hill town by florence- 3 nights (one day trip to florence) Train from hill town to CT-2 nights
CT to Pisa and Pisa to Paris-4 nights If I add a day would it be good to add that to the Tuscany area?

Posted by Tiffany
Austin
56 posts

Basically we feel good about 3 nights in Rome, 1-2 nights in CT, and 4 nights in Paris. We are trying to figure out how to split the rest of our time in Tuscany/Umbria with one day in Florence and the other time in the smaller towns.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Tiffany, Siena is a good choice for a hill town. It's large enough that you'll have lots of choices for restaurants in the evenings, an interesting Duomo (mind the dress code) and of course Il Campo which is fun for people watching (IMO). It's very easy to get from there to Florence via the SITA Buses, which depart (as I recall) from Piazza Gramsci and arrive at Piazza Garibaldi, which is close to the centre of town. I believe current fare is about €7.10 - €7.80. The rail station is at the bottom of the hill, so not as convenient. You will need to get to the station when you head to your next destination, but it's a quick Taxi ride. There are both Corse Rapide (Express) and Corse Ordinarie Buses, but not a huge difference in travel times. They arrive in Florence close to the Firenze SMN rail station, so a very good location. There are a greater number of departures of the slower Buses, so that provides some flexibility in terms of departure times. DON'T forget to validate your ticket before boarding the Bus! It's a relatively easy trip by rail from Siena to the Cinque Terre. One comment about Roberto's suggestions for air carriers. If you're thinking of using RyanAir, keep in mind that Beauvais is a considerable distance outside of Paris (about 70 kM), so you'll have to budget both time and money to actually get to Paris (Bus or Train will add at least 1.5 hours to the trip). That's why I suggested EasyJet in my previous post, as ORY is much closer to Paris and therefore an easier method. Cheers!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3347 posts

Tiffany: I understand you'd like to stay to in a small town and from there visit Florence as a day trip. Eventually you would like to go to the Cinque Terre from that small town. Since Florence is where I was born and grew up, I might be partial to that choice. Being from a very vibrant mid size city, I don't find small village living that exciting. They are gorgeous to visit, but there isn't much to do there after you've had dinner. You are from a similarly vibrant mid-size city. Like Florence, Austin is rich in culture and University life. Therefore small town life may appear a little boring. However I also understand that occasionally we don't mind a change of pace and go for something slower than we are accustomed to. Sometimes, that is a good break to have. If you were traveling by car, I would tell you: go for it. But I understand you are not. Rather, you are relying on public transport for your transportation needs. That is why I think (and this is just my opinion), you should opt for staying in Florence and do the small towns as a day trip instead. Traveling to a town in Tuscany other than Florence will significantly increase the time it takes you to get there from Rome. Also it will significantly increase the time it takes you to get to the Cinque Terre from there. But If you absolutely need to be in a town other than Florence and had no car, I would choose either Siena or Pisa. Both are college towns, the first one is prettier and has more to do, the latter however is in closer to the Cinque Terre and an easy trip from Lucca, another pretty town. I want you to know that this is really hard for a Florentine to say since we've fought both Pisa and Siena for centuries and rivalries run deep.

Posted by Tiffany
Austin
56 posts

Roberto-You have very valid points that I will certainly think about without a car I do need to keep public transit in mind. You are very kind to put aside your bias :). Thank you both for the thoughts of siena. So it seems like Siena or Florence would bea good home base. From there I could take a trip to the other hill towns one day. I am thinking a guided tour would be best to get the most out of my time. I am going to look in Janurary to book my flight. We will be there in mid October. Flights from Texas to Europe are so expensive right now. I hope my travel agent cah help with that. We are also open to a tour that would take us to Rome, Florence and CT. We want to have free time but I would stress less if I knew my transportation and tours were booked for my first Europe trip.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

Tiffany: I've always found Ken and Roberto's advice to be very good on Italy. And October is a great, great time to go to Italy with the harvest in full swing in the countryside. Now as far as booking your travel: Flight fares as currently posted are the highest they've ever been. Studies have been made, and 60 days prior to your leaving is the best time to book flights. Don't begin to buy your travel 11 months ahead of your trip, as fares only have one way to go and that's down. I use http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ to book flights because they have calendars with the least expensive fares posted day by day. It's a great time saver and I keep it on my Bookmark. When we went to Tuscany in April, we took it slowly. We stayed 3 nights in Florence and 4 nights north of Siena on a farm. We made Venice a day trip. The roads are easily negotiated, and found an automobile essential for seeing the area. We forgave seeing the C/T, and will make it on another trip.